I wrote about wanting to make dong dong ju last year…
Well, better late than never!
I call dong dong ju my ‘homesick brew’ because I drank it most often with my hiking club back when I lived in Seoul. It was our ritual to cap off good, long hikes (or death marches depending on your physicality and temerity) with traditional Korean food and drink in the spirit of building friendship and understanding between cultures. I guess you could say we were nation building at the micro-political level.
As it borders on impossible to find dong dong ju here in New York City, I have suppressed my longing for it because the only way I can drink it fresh––the only way you’re meant to drink it––is to make it myself.
I watched a guy on Youtube make something between dong dong ju and makgeolli and was pleasantly surprised by his doable recipe. I found a similar recipe I had planned on using, but having this video is an added boon. I especially liked how he used soju as a sanitizer. Brilliant!
Sanitizing your equipment and hands is a big deal when brewing booze. In every blog post I’ve read on making dong dong ju, they always make it a point to remind you of that. There’s lots of ways to do that too: dishwasher, oven method, commercial grade sanitizers, and such.
Soju at my local liquor store costs more than a fifth of Romanoff vodka (did you know it’s from Baltimore?) so I won’t be using that to sanitize anything…except my liver, that is.
You start by putting in your cooked rice in a big jar and adding inoculate and water. Let it sit for three days at which point you’ll be ready to start stirring your mash twice a day until you’re ready to decant.
The inoculate in question is a combo of enzymes (nooruk 누룩) and wine yeast. The enzyme I had to order online (I saw it later at the big Korean supermarket in Flushing) and the wine yeast I got from a local brewing shop.
Make sure your jar is a big ‘un, y’all. I had to take some mash out of its original jar and put it in another container as the rice had taken over!
To be continued!
Dong dong ju (동동주)
6 cups rice, (wash, soak overnight and then cook in your rice cooker or steamer)
1 cup nooruk enzyme (order from Hmart online)
5 grams wine yeast
8 1/2 (2 liters) cups water, spring or filtered
2 cups sugar (for the decanting step)
cheese cloth or muslin bag
glass or ceramic jar (make sure it can hold the rice and 2 liters of water with lots of room for fermenting activity!)
kitchen towels, sanitize by boiling briskly for 5 minutes
empty soda bottles, rinsed
cheap vodka or soju for sanitizing *
1. Put the kitchen towel and rice paddle into the jar. Pour in in about a cup of soju or vodka and wipe down the inside of the jar and paddle with the towel. Wipe your hands with the towel. After wiping your hands with the towel, boil it for five minutes. Pour out the access alcohol.
2. Use the rice paddle to scoop the cooked rice into the jar. Add the enzyme and yeast, mixing into the rice with your sanitized hands. Pour in the water.
3. Wipe off the rim of the jar with some alcohol and then cover with the sanitized towel (make sure to squeeze out the water) and secure with a rubber band.
4. Place your jar in a dark, draft free place. I’d put a dish or plate underneath in case there’s volcanic activity.
5. After about three days, give it stir in the morning and evening until you are ready for the decanting process in 3-5 more days.
1. Strain the mash mixture into a bowl by pouring it over cheese cloth (sanitized by boiling) or a muslin bag. Squeeze the mash to get as much of the liquid out.
2. Stir in about 2 cups of sugar into the liquid (with sanitized spoon).
3. Pour this liquid into your empty soda bottles, leaving some room at the top. Loosely close the caps and store in a cool spot for a few days before putting in the fridge. You can also drill a small hole in the caps to limit the risk of exploding caps.
4. Pour your dong dong ju into a traditional Korean dong dong ju bowl and serve in small bowls to get the full effect. Or just enjoy straight out of the bottle.
* A word about sanitizing: Make sure you sanitize all your utensils and hands. I boiled my stirring spoon before use and rubbed the rim of the containers with vodka. I also rubbed my hands down with the vodka before stirring the mash. It wouldn’t hurt to re-sanitize those towels that you’re using to cover the mash container. Some of this could be overkill on my part, but because I am planning on serving this dong dong ju to friends, I want to be super careful. And yeah, I would be careful if it were just me imbibing.